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Centre-pin; Terminal Tackle

   Float fisherman have a countless amount of choices when it comes to terminal tackle.  As with all areas of angling, the tools of the trade are specialized to the needs.  Navigating through the many options available on the wall at the local bait shop can be somewhat intimidating.  Seeking and finding the help of a trusted outfitter goes a long way to getting yourself on the correct track.  With a little background and understanding why one method is chosen of another, you will be better equipped to form opinions of your own.  By introducing a certain level of experimentation with techniques and tackle combinations, you’ll achieve a comfort level that will result in  an enjoyable and productive outing.  Nothing is more gratifying than doing a little research, formulating a plan based on discovery, and achieving your personal success on the water.  There may be a learning curve involved and a few setbacks, but finding what works and why is a huge confidence builder as you have earned it!


      So! You’ve purchased a pin, you’ve got a drift rod, and now you’re wondering, “How do I set it all up?”  Great question!  Let’s begin with the reel itself.  Most modern centre-pin reels are made from aluminum, whether milled or cast, and are susceptible to environmental changes.  Installing monofilament line directly onto the spool can torque the aluminum spool out of round.  In short, these forces have the potential to destoy an expensive reel.  Not something we wish to experiment with, as the damage could be permanent (and costly).  Similar to a fly reel, it is necessary to spool the reel with backing.  The most common choice of backing is Dacron in 20# test.  The Dacron backing accomplishes two functions: 

1. It creates a cushioned buffer for the forces of expansion and contraction to move within. 


2.  It takes less Dacron to fill up the spool than if straight monofilament line was used.  Think 250yards of mono rather than 900yards!

      Now that your reel is backed with the appropriate amount of Dacron, what line to use?  As a beginner, choose the cheapest line available.  Until you master casting directly off the spool, you’ll appreciate the savings of using the budget products over the high performance, high investment lines.  As you become more proficient at casting without line twist and bird’s nests, consider specialized lines that float.  Siglon F & FF, IronSilk, and several others are formulated specifically to float or sink at a slower rate than ordinary mono.  With any line you choose, a coating of fly line floatant/dressing goes a long way to keep the line on the water instead of in and helps to eliminate “bedding” on the spool.  Line “bedding” occurs when the individual strands compact against one another and bind within the spool.  The dressing lubricates the line and allows it to feed off the spool easily.


      For Great Lakes Steelhead, a mainline between 8-15# test is certainly adequate.  Be careful to take note of the line’s diameter.  You may be surprised at the diameter of some as compared to others.  You’ll have to experiment with what line and in what test works best.  Float and split shot will be installed at the end of the mainline before the swivel.

     From the mainline you’ll either tie off to a leader in a direct line to line connection (blood knot or surgeon's knot) or to a micro swivel.  Raven offers a XXXS micro swivel with a 20# breaking strength that is just about the size of an ant.  The best choice being the smallest swivel that will support the fight of the fish.  The swivel's function is to cope with the head shaking line twist created by running steel and, to some degree, from casting produced line twist.  Attach the tippet line to the other end of the swivel and terminate with the offering of choice.  It is advisable to step down 2# in tippet line test.  An example would be 12# mainline tied down to 8, 6, or 4# tippet.  In the event of a snag, you’ll appreciate the ability to retrieve everything but the hook when the lighter tippet breaks off.  I favor fluorocarbon tippet because of its invisibility to fish and the abrasion resistance.  Another technique is to utilize a shot line with a swivel tied on either end.  Revised the connection would be mainline, swivel, shot line of 18-24" with various sized shot, swivel, tippet, and ending with the offering.


     Centre-pinning is extremely versatile.  Try not to limit yourself to just chucking spawn or floating flies. Night crawlers, leeches, minnows, jigs, trout worms, maggots, and beads can all be used quite successfully.  Depending on the river conditions, one may work better than another.  Experiment with what works best for you and note what factors were at play when you had a great day out.  Switch things around and/or compare notes with other ‘pinners to see if you recognize trends based on clarity, flow, the holding position of fish, water temperature and the time of year.  You’d be surprised what patterns will appear as you gain experience on the river.



I hope that you’re finding these articles informative.  If you feel there is something I’ve overlooked or you have a suggestion that will enrich the information provided, please feel free to email me at















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